The International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame entertains and informs music buffs with one of the genre's only existing video libraries, along with 16 life-size oil paintings and scores of rock relics. Tour guide Henry Harrison schools guests on rockabilly music's greatest entertainers, revealing quirky facts and long-division problems that lend insight into the lives of luminaries such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and others. Listen as pompadoured performers tell tales of making music history through the hall of fame's video library, or view vibrant portraits of legends such as Sam Phillips and Shelby Singleton, the only owners of historic Sun Records. Peruse obscure artifacts from concerts and stage costumes, or model next year's yard display after the museum's Christmas-themed replica of Graceland. In addition to its interior exhibits, the Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame boasts vibrant exterior murals depicting Perkins and his original band, Sir Paul McCartney, and unruly mobs of teenagers trying to request the stars' e-mail addresses.
Dedicated to the legendary train engineer, Casey Jones Village features shops, attractions, and a museum rife with artifacts and anecdotes about Jackson's railroad history. Three authentic railcars are displayed prominently as mainstays from a different era, and children are encouraged to climb up on the engine and ring the train bell. A short film detailing the life of Casey Jones plays in the museum's theater, and a children's area entreats kids with wooden train sets so they can imagine they're piloting the first locomotive to shoot missiles at Saturn. After viewing the museum's offerings, guests can engage in other village attractions, such as mini golf, woodcarving demonstrations, and traditional treats at the antique-laden Brooke Shaw's Old Country Store. Before leaving, visitors can nosh on old-fashioned milk shakes and ice-cream sodas at the 1890s-inspired Ice Cream Parlor and Fudge Shoppe, voted one of the best 50 ice-cream parlors in the country by USA Today.
The interactive exhibits and programs compiled by the Pink Palace Family of Museums reinforce a mission that has stayed constant for 80 years: to "inspire people to learn how history, science, technology, and nature shape the Mid-South." Attached to Clarence Saunders' mansion built in the 1920s, the museum's permanent exhibits take an eclectic approach to chronicling the past, revealing everything from ancient fossils to contemporary southern history. Inside, visitors can chart the history of Memphis from the early Spanish explorers through the Civil War or walk through a replica of Saunders' original Piggly Wiggly—the country’s first self-service grocery store, and even see a shrunken head. Global adventures are chronicled on a four-story screen at the CTI-IMAX theater, and the Sharpe Planetarium explores the cosmos from the comfort of a 130-seat theater.
Traveling to east Memphis, one can discern the natural side of the Pink Palace Family of Museums. Lichterman Nature Center encompasses 65 acres of lush gardens filled with native wildflowers, trees, and wildlife. The center combines self-guided nature walks with plant sales and educational activities to expose visitors to the natural world.
The Stax Museum is one of the only soul-music museums in the world. It originally sprouted from an old movie theater into recording studios, offices, and engineering rooms and also birthed Stax Records, a soul-music label that influenced music internationally. Explore this artifact-packed temple of tunes to discover over 2,000 soulful objet d'art and exhibits. The museum celebrates the songs of archetypal artists like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and soul much more. As you stroll through the cabinet of wonders, music playing throughout the museum encourages the practice of extemporaneous dance moves on the Soul Train dance floor. Walls of records, film screenings, memorabilia, and countless items of musical intrigue are scattered throughout. Bask in the ambience of Isaac Hayes's peacock-blue 1972 fur-lined super-fly Cadillac Eldorado with a television, refrigerator, gold trim, and electromagnetic women attractor.
Catering to the mid- to mid-mid-life needs of 21- to 40-year-olds, Bravo presents its members with complimentary admission to a dynamic schedule of arts-oriented events featuring an array of artistic media, from photography to live music. Enjoy private tours of unique cultural destinations such as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (November 10), as well as cinematic and theatrical affairs such as a screening of Trouble Man, accompanied by a live performance of Marvin Gaye's soundtrack (December 10) and an operatic adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream (January 20). In addition to their artistic content, many Bravo events also include complimentary hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and other perks usually available only to Burton Gilliam and members of the Illuminati.
Perched atop a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the Metal Museum provides an opportunity for visitors to view expertly crafted metalwork every day without transforming their minivans into tree-hanging dragon feeders. As the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to showcasing fine metalwork, the National Ornamental Metal Museum takes visitors back to a time when blacksmiths were revered as celebrities and held frontcourt season tickets to public stoning bouts. Visitors can peruse a variety of metalworking facilities, exhibits, and a gift shop while browsing delicate knives and jewelry alongside sturdy cast-iron sculptures and contemporary works. Each individual membership is good for one year and includes free admission to all exhibits. Additionally, members will receive 10% off any metal repair work performed by the museum’s capable smiths, a tuition discount for classes, special-event and newsletter mailings, and 10% off gift-store items. With three guest day passes, you’ll never get caught with no way to entertain the in-laws or pals visiting on a rainy day.